This year my favourite show is Avatar . Scott and me watched all three seasons in a greedy one-week rush. Loved it, loved it, loved it. If you haven’t seen it you really really should.

Ever since I’ve been wanting to watch something that hits the same spot. Thus far without a lot of success. Miyazake’s films, which I adore, have some of the same feel, but I’m in the mood for a series, not a standalone movies. I want interesting world building, plots that make sense, strong female characters.

The last is particularly important to me. We’ve been watching Death Note and while there’s a lot I like about it, the main female character, Misa Amane, is absolutely appalling—clingy, immature, stupid, annoying. Ever since her first appearance I’ve been steadily losing interest. I cannot stress how much I never ever want to watch a show with a character like Misa Amane in it. I don’t remember the last time I’ve been so irritated by anyone—character or real person. I loved the character of Naomi Misora but sadly she was only in a few episodes. A show all about her would be awesome.

Fire away with recommendations, please.

And does anyone have an opinion on whether the Naruto anime is as good as the manga?


  1. Anabelle on #

    Whoa….my two favorite authors watching my two favorite shows [Avatar and Death Note]? This is…..AWESOME.

    I was never a fan of the Naruto anime, but I’ve never read the manga…so I can’t really help you with that. I guess I might suggest watching an anime called Black Cat, although I’ve only ever read the manga version of it. Or perhaps something more adorable, like Fruits Basket. I think the female characters in both are pretty strong, but neither shows are as good as Avatar. 😀

    This is still so cool. I can’t believe you liked Avatar—my mom loathed it. 😛

  2. Haley Kay on #

    My favorite animes are Fruits Basket and Elfen Lied. The Fruits Basket mangas are even better than the anime, I highly recommend reading those after you watch the anime. (:

  3. Kirsten on #

    I don’t watch anime myself, but for what it’s worth, of the teens I know who do, VAMPIRE KNIGHTS is well-liked. I just read the manga, which I thought was okay–I’m not a big fan of vampire adventure/romances (this one is much more Buffy than Twilight, but still)

    The manga I read most recently that I liked the most (also a teen reccy, but not wildly popular) is ARIA about apprentice “Sirens” (gondoliers) on an aqua-formed Mars. Beautiful, beautiful art (I want to buy my ticket to Aqua, now!) and very girl-centric where the friendships and ambitions of the girls trump romance. I checked and it has an anime version.

  4. Dana on #

    My favorite anime/manga is YuYu Hakusho. It can be had on DVD. It’s got some strong female characters but it’s mostly centered around males. It’s still a very good anime with strong elements of Japanese myth and legend.

    Death Note started fabulous, got shaky with the introduction of Misa, and went downhill like a snowball heading for hell. What’s interesting about Misa is how Light uses her to further his own ends. I’d have drowned her inside a week!

    I personally hate Naruto. My husband loves it, but the main character’s voice gets on my nerves so badly that I have to flee the room. I keep wanting to shove a handful of cough drops down his throat.

  5. Liann on #

    It’s interesting that you’re asking about Naruto, because just the other day I was ranting about how little emphasis it places on female ninjas. (And this was after reading the manga.)

    Might I suggest an anime called The Twelve Kingdoms? It’s not very well-known, but it was based off a fantasy novel (instead of the conventional manga) and the novel itself was a bestseller. The central character is a girl, and probably one of the strongest, most complex female character I’ve ever seen. More so because she grows to be that way over the course of the story.

    The story is tight (it started as a novel, after all) and there is magic and mystery and incredible world-building. If you can find the anime series, I’d highly recommend it.

  6. Ellise on #

    I’m kind of pressed for time but the ones that pop into my head first are Haibane Renmei (normal enough world, but girls are hatched with small wings and halos)

    I’d second Aria, it’s very relaxing.

    I’m trying to think of something with the world building and characters like Avatar. Escaflowne is the usual girl-adapts-to-a-strange-land type story, swashbucking and mecha dragons.

    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has a VERY strong female lead with hard scifi and political elements. (and tachikoma!)

    Gunbuster is an oldie, also futuristic with girls piloting huge mechs and has one of the best endings in all of anime in my opinon.

    Seriously, I could go on for days…

  7. Ninja Fanpire on #

    My friend Natahka keeps talking about this great new Anime called Romeo and Juliet. She says it’s similar to the book, however, she’s never read a speck of Shakespeare in her life, poor soul. She told me a bit about it…..It doesn’t sound much like the original story, however, it does sound like it could be good.

    Yes, Misa is a bit annoying, and I only watched a few episodes.

    Another Anime I highly enjoyed was Wolf’s Rain. There are a few good females in there. Wolf’s Rain is the only Anime I’ve ever finished, just because I’m not super into Anime. Yet.

    Also, I believe Bleach is good. And Naruto has had a pretty nice run of shows, hasn’t it? It has to have something good in it.

    FULL METAL ALCHEMIST! I watched the end of just one episode, and I love it. Although the series is based around two boys, from what I understand.

  8. Steph on #

    You would probably like “Read or Die”. It’s about a girl named Yomiko who is completely obsessed with books (seriously, she has a whole buidling rented out just to hold them and sleeps in a pile of them), but is also a secret agent. She is a paper user, meaning she can manipulate paper to fight with. This might sound a little odd, but the fight sequences and what she can do with paper is really cool (She even stops bullets! With paper!)Her mission is to stop a group of I-Jin, clones of ancient historical figures, who are trying to get one of her books that contains the manuscript for “Beethoven’s Death Symphony”, which if played will cause the whole world to commit suicide.

    Read or Die is an OVA, meaning there are three episodes in it, which plays out like a movie, but after the OVA there is a television series called “Read or Die – The TV”. The series is set in the same world with three new characters, three Paper User sisters called Anita, Michelle, and Maggie. Michelle and Maggie are as obsessed with books as Yomiko, but Anita hates them, since they are somehow linked with her mysterious past that she can not remember. It takes place years after the the events of the OVA, but the events from the OVA start to unfold in the plot of the television series. Most of the characters from the OVA also make an appearance.

    So if you like strong female characters, books, action scenes done in very inventive ways, and plot twists, this is the series for you. 🙂

  9. AudryT on #

    The manga publisher I work for leans toward strong girls due to the biases of the Creative Director (namely, me). 😉 Unfortunately, only one of our manga is currently running as an anime: 07-GHOST. It’s helmed by female writers & artists, but they’re doing BL so most of the characters are guys.

    If you want to read some manga, check out Bound Beauty for a girl who just won’t take no for an answer (even if it’s her sexy sensei turning her down), and Ultimate Venus for a girl who doesn’t take crap from anyone, not even her grandmother–who runs a massive syndicate and expect her to take over someday. They both have a mix of comedy and romance; Bound Beauty also has a supernatural hot-boy-harem angle.

    My personal favorite is Night of the Beasts, which has supernatural monsters, blood splattered on the walls, and a girl who has to rescue a guy who’s being consumed by a demon. It’s from the 90s, but I love the artwork. Here’s a trailer we did up for it (has music and requires Flash):

    For strong girls in anime, I thought Wallflower started out with promise, but it seemed to drift into typical superficial plots after a while. The powerful, opinionated lead in Sugar Sugar Rune is hilarious, but I fear in the long run she might tone herself down for the boys (I haven’t finished it yet). Er, and I’m not sure the Sugar Sugar Rune anime made it into English, anyway.

    I am huge, huge fan of Rurouni Kenshin. The supporting women in that series are strong in subtle ways, and often have more complexity than the average girl in a shonen series. Also, there is a fabulous female character in the One Piece series — Nami — whose back story is the most fascinating part of the whole series. But the lead boy Rufi/Luffy is pretty annoying.

    Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop was awesome. Her backstory, which comes near the end of the series, blew me away.

    It’s been a while since I saw Soul Eater, but it’s “new” on this side of the ocean, and I believe there were strong female characters as part of the ensemble cast. On a similar note, I haven’t seen Claymore, but a lot of people rave about it.

    Utena does the “strong-willed girl who takes on a man’s role” story well. On a similar note, there is always the classic The Rose of Versailles, with it’s cross-dressing heroine who never hesitates to get in a sword fight. Going way back to the beginning, you could watch Tezuka’s Princess Knight, the girl who revolutionized shojo manga by allowing female characters to be brave and strong for an entire generation. (Unfortunately, after the seventies, they started regressing back to female characters whose biggest goal was to cook the perfect bento box for their would-be boyfriend.)

    Manga/Anime to avoid like the zombie plague if you hate annoying female characters:

    Seven of Seven
    A.I. Love You
    Hot Gimmick
    Catgirl Nukunuku
    Peach Girl
    And on and on and on and on…

  10. AudryT on #

    P.S. I can’t believe I used “it’s” wrong. :::stabs herself with pen and dies a long, painful death of humilation:::

  11. Kayli on #

    I highly recommend a show called Gurren Lagann. It has a very interesting world, the characters feel very real, and the female characters are all very strong. It’s just fun and exciting overall, and probably the most like Avatar of the anime I watch regularly.

    I love Avatar too! A live-action movie by M Night Shyamalan is coming out soon, and I’m excited to see if it turns out well (but mostly I’m terrified it’ll be really bad).

  12. Justine on #

    Thanks for all the great recs!

    Kayli: Isn’t Avatar the best thing ever? However, I’m boycotting the film of Avatar. He’s taken an Asian tv series and made it mostly white. I’m horrified.

  13. Stella on #

    Typically, I’m not the kind of person to like really popular things. But for some strange reason, Bleach and Naruto are my two FAVORITE series. They’re the only ones I’ve kept up with since college. My advice with both series is to SKIP FILLERS.

    As far as Naruto goes, you’ll probably hate Sakura in the beginning (I did). But, really, by the time you “catch up” with the series, you might love her. 🙂

    I always tell people, give both animes a shot. Try 8-10 episodes. If you’re still not interested, just stop. But I do think that the anime is a very well-done version of the manga. Except for the fillers (which you really can just skip — they never put anything major or important to the main storyline within them) they follow the manga almost perfectly.

  14. Taylor on #

    One of my favorite anime’s (apart from Death Note) is Code Geass. The anime is centered around a guy of course but the main female character – Kallen – is a strong character in my opinion. She’s nowhere near clingy, whiny or immature like Misa is. Also the series is like 50 episodes long. If you liked Death Note you’ll probably like Code Geass – even more so when there’s a lack of girls like Misa. It has a good plot that makes sense and the world building is futuristic and realistic in my opinion. You should definitely take a look at it.

  15. Julia on #

    No, Death Note is Fantastic you cannot stop watching it just because of Misa. Misa doesn’t even play that big a part later in the series.
    I also like Full Metal Alchemist, the manga, I haven’t seen the anime, but I hear it is drastically different, though it is kinda dark. The two Main characters are male, but he female characters are very strong. There is actually a second anime for this called Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, which is supposed to follow the Manga better.
    I also second the Code Geass, I haven’t seen it, but friend of mine who is much more into anime and manga than me liked it.

  16. Jenny on #

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but this is the first time I’ve commented :). I wanted to second the recommendation for Fullmetal Alchemist – the first anime, not the second one that’s currently in progress. It’s beautifully told and has a fully-developed world (though there are a few plot holes in the second half of the anime, they’re easy to over look). The female characters are not the focus of the story, but they are all strong characters. The manga is even more tightly done with regards to story and plot and has – arguably, there are rabid fans on both sides – even better characterization. Both the (first) anime and the manga are worth picking up.

    Another one I’d recommend is Princess Tutu. But you have to give it at least four episodes before you decide, because the first two or so are pretty confusing. Complex characters, two very strong female leads, a beautiful story and a very intriguing world.

    All right, I’m actually at work and so probably shouldn’t be typing this, so I’ll leave off here ^_^. But you’re one of my favorite authors and you have good taste (Avatar is amazing!) so I wanted to share some of my favorite shows.

  17. Jackie Dolamore on #

    I’ve never seen an anime as good as avatar. But, the one that maybe comes closest is something called Last Exile. It was kind of like Miyazaki. It hit all the right notes for me, and it does have some good female characters, although avatar was really awesome in that regard.

  18. stacy on #

    You would LOVE The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye. Main character, Honoka, roams the desert as a sword for hire, kind of. Lots of secrets, and she’s known as the Sword Dancer for a reason. SO GOOD.

    I also love Trigun — several pretty strong female characters, though the story really is about the main guy character.

    I really love Saiunkoku Monogatari. It’s set in an ancient Chinese-like world, in which the main character, Shuurei, is asked to go into the emperor’s harem to make the king a better person, and she accepts without knowing what she’s agreeing to because her family is so poor, she wants the gold that’s offered. But though there is romance, it’s not your average romance. Shuurei knows her own mind, and though she’s not your kick-butt martial arts kind of anime girl, she’s a strong character within the confines of her culture — and pushes at those boundaries. She has other dreams — to become the first female official and to make her country a better place.

    Note that only season 1 of Saiunkoku is available on DVD in the US, though. I had to watch season 2 on fansubs. I’m not sure if it would be available in Australia — I’m assuming not, given that fansubs usually disappear when the anime is available in English somewhere in the world.

    I found the main character of Twelve Kingdoms to be whiny and annoying, by the way, so you’ll want to approach that with wariness if you’re looking for non-annoying girls.

    I’m watching Witch Hunter Robin right now and it’s got a strong set of characters, including the main character, Robin, who is a stoic girl who talks little but thinks much. I’d definitely recommend it.

    I second Fullmetal Alchemist — you’ll love Winry, the main characters’ mechanic. Also, definitely recommend Last Exile, which I’m also in the middle of — the main girl character is a mechanic and a strong, independent girl.

    Just finished watching a fansub of Eden of the East, a spy show that just finished running in Japan, and it was *very* good. No cool powers like in Avatar, but the main girl character is smart.

    Emma: A Victorian Romance is very, very good — Victorian, and romance, but also a strong girl in her own way, though also shy and timid, pushes the boundaries of Victorian society.

  19. Danielle on #

    I don’t watch anime, so I’m no help there, but I saw that you want shows with strong female characters… Ever since my friends made me watch Bones, I’ve been addicted, and the show is FULL of strong female characters. I highly recommend it, especially if you like those crime solving type shows. 😀

  20. Becky J on #

    Ok! This show is great. The main character is really interesting and cool and kick ass. The series is called The Third: The Girl with the Third Eye. Wiki entry:

    Also, check out Red Garden. It’s pretty funny in one way because it takes place in NY and all the characters have huge noses.

    Also Gankutsuo is a must the animation by itself is amazing:

    Also, Haibane Renme is really great, in art and story.

    Also, Ghost Hound is REALLY great but it’s not been released officially in the US yet but definitely keep your eye out for it.

    The Naruto anime is VERY long. It has lots of filler episodes which are kind of annoying, usually. I don’t think you’d like it much, but give it a try.

  21. Becky J on #

    Oh and Cowboy Bebop! It is a classic! It is a great show. Totally wild west scifi. It’s a total classic in the anime world. I loves it. It never gets old for me.

  22. Paige on #

    NARUTO! I love Naruto, it’s hilarious. I haven’t read it though.
    InuYasha is cool too.

  23. Sabrina on #

    Avatar was wonderful. I just found it so frustrating (watching as it aired on television) because they changed its time and day very often, a needle in a haystack of chunky art and immature storylines. (I cringe about the movie. ‘Oh, well, the villain is non-white. That totally makes it okay for the rest of the cast to be white.’ ~headdesk~ It’s almost worse that I saw a trailer for it that made the film look really interesting.)

    I haven’t finished The Wallflower anime yet, but I enjoy the story/premise. I’ve been reading the manga, too. A high school girl obsessed with the macabre who has to live with four beautiful boys. They get free rent–living in the girl’s aunt’s place–if they can turn her into a lady. They continuously fail because she sees no point in letting others’ opinion of her affect her behavior.

    And now that you ask the question, I find that I really don’t watch that much anime. I really am more of a manga and comics girl.

  24. Q on #

    Oh my goodness. Avatar has a fabulous plot, characters, and world while still being absolutely hilarious. I adore it.

  25. Heather Z. on #

    Several have been championed already, but the one I would most strongly recommend, without equivocation, would be Fullmetal Alchemist. The world is the most complex and believable I’ve ever encountered in an anime, the situations and consequences are real and heavy, and there are no minor or irrelevant characters. It is about the relationship of two brothers, but the supporting characters are as real and complex as any story I’ve ever encountered (including Miyazaki). There are several strong female leads that fit the bill perfectly. You will love Maria Ross and Lt. Hawkeye, who are both no nonsense girls that have real depth to them. And you will absolutely fall in love with Winry and Sheska (Sheska in particular, because she is a book nerd). This is without question, the best anime series I have encountered anywhere. And I’ve watched more than I’m willing to admit.

    Trigun is another excellent series. Again, the main character is a (very lovable) guy, which I personally have no problem with, so long as the other characters are treated well. The thing I love is the differences of what makes the female characters strong in this anime. The three main ones I’m thinking of (Meryl, Millie, and Rem) handle their problems quite differently, but it makes them no weaker than any other character. In some cases, they are the only ones holding things together when everyone else is falling apart.

    The Twelve Kingdoms I could also recommend, not for them starting out strong, but for how they grow throughout the series (there are several main character female stories you follow). So I can agree with both of the previous opinions. Yoko is quite annoying in the beginning. But is is a vivid and lush world. Certainly a very pretty anime with a very unique and complex world system. I also have all the books that have (currently) been released in the US. I’m eagerly awaiting to read those.

    Read or Die has an awesome female character (for the reasons mentioned above), but I’ve never seen the series and the above comments refers to the movie. Loved that movie though. Not complex or even really realistic story, but it is just her character and how much she loves books that endears me to her. Very persistent little thing. Quite tenacious.

    Wolf’s Rain I would counter as not having very strong female characters, except perhaps the single girl wolf.

    Same for Escaflowne. I didn’t like her much, and many of the females I would consider trivial and only tokens to the story.

    I actually would recommend Naruto. But please for all that is good in this world, watch it with the original Japanese voices. I think that is what other people are talking about in wanting to shove cough drops down Naruto’s throat. That is a particularly interesting series, because in the beginning, the female ninjas ARE often overlooked and even trivialized, but as the series develops (quite organically), you see them step up and take a much larger role in the events that unfold. It is pointed out that Sakura will give you the impression of the stereotypical helpless nitwit token female. But stick with it, they grow. And Temari is an awesome, strong, and rich character that feels a deep love and desire to protect her brothers (who are also in her squad). It is probably the most like Avatar in the action packed aspect, and the girls begin to rock more and more. So stick with this one, in my opinion, it is well worth it (just remember, SUBTITLES is the key).

    I only watched Death Note for L. One of my favorite anime characters ever. I never finished that series (Misa was one of the reasons why).

    Thanks for the Avatar recommendation! I think you’ve finally tipped the scales for me. I’m going to give it a try now. 🙂

    P.S My sister recommends Ghost in the Shell.

  26. Rachel Brown on #

    Have you seen Fullmetal Alchemist? Women aren’t as central as they are in Avatar, but there are many very cool female characters, plus excellent storytelling (the seemingly stand-alone early episodes turn out to be essential to the overall plot), and much more interesting worldbuilding than is immediately obvious. It’s probably my favorite anime ever.

    I also rec Claymore. I haven’t yet seen the anime, but the manga is almost entirely female. Women are infused with the power of demons to battle demons; they eventually are taken over by their dark sides and must summon their best friends to kill them. All rousing action, female bonding, and heartbreak. The setting is generic but the unraveling of the secrets behind the Claymores is pretty cool.

    I prefer the manga of Naruto to the anime because you can more easily skim some of the less inspired and drawn-out fight scenes. The animation is also not exactly stellar. On the positive side, the anime has some fantastic voice acting.

    I second Haibane Renmei, though it’s very quiet and mellow and you have to be in the mood for it.

  27. Evon on #

    Hi! First time commenter here 😀 (Normally I’m content with reading your blog – very entertaining and cool – but when it comes to anime I couldn’t resist) Anyway, I can’t really answer your last question as I only watch Naruto in anime form and never read the manga. I love the anime though! It’s disappointing that the ‘main’ female character, Sakura, is quite useless and even annoying in the beginning, but when you see her grow, man, you’d totally root for her. And by the time you reach Naruto Shippuden (season 2), she’s Awesome! Oh well, it is a shonen anime after all.

    Also, I love Hinata from Naruto too. She’s strong in her own way.

    As for other animes, I totally recommend Digimon: The First Adventure! The plot is awesome! (Well, I watched it when I was very little, and it was very, very cool) And though there are few female main characters, they are given enough space to evolve and grow.

    Also, Bleach should be good. It’s also a shonen (which seems to be all that I watch; what can I say? I like sword fights/gun battles and lots of explosions and power-ups) anime, and the female characters are developed quite late into the series; but the plot is really good, and it has rather fascinating if slightly inconsistent/illogical world-building. But if you don’t like long, drawn out fights though, you’d probably be doing a lot of skipping.

    That’s all for now. Hope you let us know which ones you settled with and what you think about them.

  28. lily on #

    I like mushishi very much although I’m not sure it really meets your criteria of strong female characters (it only has one recurring character throughout – it doesn’t have an overarching plot either). it’s very dreamy and hard to grasp, quite Miyazaki-ish – its like a series of ephemeral images and stories that seem quite slight but which really stick with you afterwards

  29. Kyli on #

    Justine, just when I thought you and Scott could not get any cooler….I love you even more now knowing you love Avatar as well. It is both mine and my husband’s favorite show and we quote from it at least once a day. Best. Show. Ever. EVER!!!

    That is all. 🙂

  30. wingstodust on #

    I’ll join the chorus and say WATCH FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST. Actually I personally prefer the manga, but the anime will do, lol.


    As much as I liked Code Geass, it doesn’t particularly treat its girls well. =/

  31. Annalee Flower Horne on #

    I second Ghost In The Shell: Stand-Alone Complex. It’s nothing like Miyazaki’s work, but strong female characters and an intricate, fast-paced story? Yeah, it’s got those. The Uglies world actually reminded me a bit of Ghost in the Shell–not in an “omg ripoff” kind of way, because they’re completely different, but in a “weee, transhumanism!” kind of way.

    (and yeah, I know it looks like the MC doesn’t own any pants at first, but that gets fixed later).

    Plus, the tachikoma are awesome.

  32. Tim Keating on #

    You are probably SOL, in that Avatar was created by Americans who allowed themselves to be influenced by anime. Everything else you find out there will either be A) an authentic Asian creation (and therefore, completely off its nut) or B) a shitty American knockoff.

    OK, perhaps “completely” off its nut is an exaggeration. I did really enjoy Samurai Champloo, and its predecessor Cowboy Bebop. The former is only a season long, though, and should give you some idea whether that studio’s style is for you.


  33. Zahra on #

    Ohhh, I used to be a hardcore anime fan, do I ever miss it!

    First off, Avatar is AMAZING. Don’t you just love the intricate world? But whitewashing the movie depresses me!
    And Death Note, my goodness, what a show. I do miss sitting through the night watching it intensely.

    My reccommendation: FULL METAL ALCHEMIST. I love love love this show to death. It’s totally steampunk and the characters absorb you! Talk about a much more interesting Edward.. *cough*

    I also second Inu-Yasha, one of my favourite shows ever. How fun would tripping into old eras be? The characters are believable in this,complete with mind boggling antogonists, betrayals, romance, humour. Aww, this makes me want to rewatch some eps. I’ll get to that now.

    Hmm, although I do enjoy Naruto sometimes, it’s the Twilight of the anime world. The anime just elongates scenes for no apparent reason, but do give it a try.

  34. Jennmonk on #

    I am going to second a few of these recommendations. For world building and good characters: Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Full Metal Alchemist. For strong female characters: Read or Die, Aria, Ghost in the Shell, Utena, Romeo x Juliet, Witch Hunter Robin.

    Please check out Ouran High School Host Club. Now a few warnings….this is parody. It is making fun of all the other shoujo out there. You have to get past the excessive amount of pink and crazy behavior. Once you do, you will find one of the strongest female characters in anime.

    Also Serial Experiments Lain. This is a bit older and very scifi. Kind of like Matrix if directed by David Lynch. But the main reccy for this one is Lain herself. Even though her world is odd and confusing, she is the one constant. And her “friend” Alice is pretty amazing too.

    Oh, and have you seen some of the less known Miyazaki? Definitley check out “The Cat Returns,” “Whispers of the Heart,” “Pompopo,” and “Castle in the Sky.” Most of these are older Miyazaki, but they continue in the vein of strong heroines and interesting worlds. Oh, and one of my favorite Studio Ghibli movis is actually not a Miyazaki per se, “Only Yesterday.” Talk about your strong females!

  35. Diana Peterfreund on #

    Um, can someone help me with an anime rec? I watched one episode a long time ago and I can’t remember what it was called but it was recommended to me.

    It starts with a girl falling through the sky. then there are all these kids at a school — they’re angels, with little wings and halos. And they are cleaning up in a library that has what looks like a giant cocoon in it. And then you see inside the cocoon and the girl who was falling is inside of it.

  36. Karen Healey on #

    You might like Justice League Unlimited (which follows Justice League, a cute but inferior series). You can generally find most of it on youtube if you want to take a quick taste, but generally, it’s over 50 superheroes doing awesome, awesome things in a big universe, with a focus on individual stories within a meandering, but satisfying plotarc, and usually very clever writing, especially when it comes to humour. It’s Bruce Timm-style art, so the women are all hot, but differentiated an awesome, and the voice acting is just incredibly good across the board.

    It’s the only drawn series I like almost as much as Avatar, which is why I thought of it.

  37. stacy on #

    How could I forget Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit? Now that’s a strong female character–rarely do you see mature women (the main character who protects the prince is about 29) who have it together, and are the hero of their own story. If you know Cheryl Klein, she edited the US editions of the light novels upon which the anime is based. I have the first book but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’ve watched the whole anime and wow, it’s just beautiful. A great relationship (mentor, almost-parent) between the main character (a bodyguard who has sworn to save as many lives as she’s once taken in the past) and the boy prince she’s protecting.

  38. Travis on #

    Fullmetal Alchemist is amazing. The first actual anime I watched from beginning to end. Bleach has strong female leads, but isn’t as story driven as most of the other shows mentioned.

  39. Ninja Fanpire on #

    I think Full Metal Alchemist is the winner. It’s been mentioned by 9 different people.

  40. Diana Peterfreund on #

    Oh, I just realized reading all these comment I have both Fullmetal and Lain on my queue to watch.

  41. Walter Jon Williams on #

    I can’t believe that no one has mentioned Revolutionary Girl Utena, which is not only the best anime ever, but the best television series in the history of the whole world!

    Okay, I sounded like a real fanboy there, but I’m not alone in this conclusion. I’ve watched the whole series five times now, and it gets better and richer and more complex on every viewing.

  42. Celia C on #

    I recommend Mushi-shi and Kino’s Journey. They don’t exactly meet your criteria (they’re more episodic than one continuous series, for example), but they touch on some of the deeper issues that Avatar raises. Kino’s also kind of cool (especially her talking motorbike sidekick)! There’s also Please Save My Earth, about six aliens reincarnated on Earth, but you might have some difficulty finding the DVD. I really, really love PSME though, and I highly recommend it (it’s short, just six episodes).

    I did a marathon viewing of Avatar for the first time only a week ago, and I fell completely in love with the story and the characters (can’t get enough of the music either!). I’d be sorry that I wasn’t able to catch it when it was shown on TV, but I heard there were long waiting periods in between episodes and seasons, so maybe it was better to have caught them all in one go.

  43. Meg on #

    The thing that’s truly unfortunate about Death Note is the series’ unfortunate portrayal of female characters. For such a… provoking series, I find it to be incredibly mysogynistic. (Which is interesting considering that the anonymous writer of the manga is rumored to be female.) The only positive portrayal of a woman at all is Naomi Misora, and she… well, you know what happens to her. HOWEVER, if you liked her, she’s one of the main characters in Nisio Isin’s spin-off novel, “Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases” which chronicle’s the case that L initially met Misora on. (And yes, this has been translated and published in English by VIZ.)

    Only one person mentioned this, so I’m going to double the recommendation for Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.
    Eastern fantasy with an incredibly strong adult woman protagonist. The wife of the Emperor hires Balsa to protect her young son, who is believed to be possessed by a demon and is being chased down by assassins. It’s based on the first of a series of light novels. Scholastic is publishing the English versions and I believe that the first one is available right now.

    But mostly, I’m going to go a little off the beaten path with these:

    1) RahXephon. I don’t know how to explain it, but if you know anything about Neon Genesis Evangelion, take EVA and remove 90% of the mental neuroses. (Protag is a teenage boy. He’s gonna have SOME. None of which are Daddy Issues or Oedipal in any way.) It’s still a bit of a head trip, but it’s the most beautiful Sci-Fi show I’ve ever watched. The female characters are strong and realistically portrayed. And it’s loosely based off of Robert F. Young’s short story, “The Dandelion Girl.”

    2 & 3) And while these are a far cry from the fantasy that most people have been reccing, here’s a duo from manga-ka Ai Yazawa.

    First, Paradise Kiss. 12 episode series about a teenage girl who, while studying to take her college entrance exams, gets swept into the world of underground fashion design when a group of fashion school students decide they want her for their model. (FUNimation picked up the license from Geneon, so it should be pretty easy to find.)

    The second suggestion is NANA, basically about two girls named Nana who are completely different in every way. (One is the lead singer in a rock band. The other is very Future Housewife material.) They end up becoming roommates when the one follows her boyfriend out to college. Personal discovery ensues. (This isn’t out on DVD, but it is available streaming at several locations, including the Anime News Network’s streaming service and FUNimation’s youtube channel, plus it’s available on FUNimation’s OnDemand station, if you have access to cable that carries it.)

    Ai Yazawa does coming-of-age like it’s no one’s business, plus her work is josei rather than shoujo, so the themes are more mature and all the characters skew a little older. The characters in NANA are all collegiates and the main characters in Paradise Kiss are all approximately 18.

    … There is actually a professional reason why I know all of this stuff, I swear.

  44. Meg on #

    One other thing… As for the Naruto anime, I recommend avoiding it because Naruto is Weekly Shonen Jump and suffers from the exact same thing that (almost) every other show based on a Shonen Jump property has suffered from: over 100 episodes of plot-free filler. One of which involves urine. I’m not going into details. I’m just warning you away. FAR FAR AWAY.

  45. Avalon's Willow on #

    Very, very late to this party – seconding

    Juuni Kokki (my fav anime of all time) also known as ‘The Twleve Kingdoms’. I will mention as I always do, that you have to stick past episode 5 – as you’re not initially meant to like the protagonist.

    My second fav anime of all time is Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit.

    My Third, is Saiunkoku Monogatari.

    They all involve female protagonists either discovering their truth depths or fighting intelligently for what’s right or both at once, especially when what’s right involves them becoming a better person with far reaching consequences.

    As for Naruto – I mostly enjoyed it up to a certain point and then I was done. Basically I stopped caring after ‘The Hunt For Saske’ because it was no longer the show I wanted to watch.

  46. Li on #

    I’m thirding Moribito, because I love it to bits.

    I’m not sure if it’s out in the US yet, but there’s also Dennou Coil, which has awesome animation and a whole bunch of strong female leads, and is sadly under-loved by the majority of anime fans despite having won (I think) an award.

  47. Dana A on #

    You have enough for some time, but I thought I’d add a few anyway, who knows 🙂

    Scrapped Princess has interesting female characters, though not stereotypically “strong” they are at least each strong in her own way. (Same with the male characters) It’s got odd world building, but intriguing enough, starting with a fantasy world scenario and slowly adding the “advanced technology” explanations for the magic. Capsule summary: “royal scapegoat flees with her family from those who must kill the girl to save their world – or so they think”

    Angelic Layer, one of my all time favorite animes, has mostly female characters. The main character is sweet and determined, looking for the mother who left her to be raised by grandparents due to disability. It also has a fun tournament-style plot common in movies and tv series, so very accessible to young kids. Capsule summary: “12 year old girl joins virtual battle sport tournament, following in her absent mother’s footsteps”

    Mai Hime has crazy world building but a huge cast of personalities. Many are strong females, though they all have their issues, to say the least. It has an ending that many hated though… and it goes from silly to angstful very quickly and back again. “Teenager and her brother go to strange boarding school, get caught up in mystic reenactment of an ancient deity’s curse”

    Madlax has very charming and (in some cases) strong female characters, absorbing world full of intrigue and unexplained events that doesn’t fully make sense but hangs together as well as it needs to, and also I really liked the music. “Physically invulnerable airhead spy is more than she seems, as is solitary quiet rich girl, mysteriously linked in a web of intrigue and war”

    I also liked Kiddy Grade, it was silly and playful but I thought it had good characterization and effective storytelling anyway. “Lipstick martial artist and girlish techno-whiz are interstellar agents, and best friends, fighting crime and hiding secrets – even from each other”

    Literally, martial arts lipstick… you have to see it — less disgusting than fist of the nose hair anyway (Nose hair martial arts: that’s in Bobobo bo Bobobo, a crazy nonsense anime that is also pretty funny).

  48. Avalon's Willow on #

    *face palm*

    Totally forgot Claymore. If you can handle some gore, it’s pretty enjoyable. I think of it as ‘What if Slayers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, lived in a medieval European world’. The main character is Clare, but there are SEVERAL strong warriors and I happen to love the artwork in both the manga and the anime, because even though all the women are blonde with silver eyes they all look different; they’re drawn with varied body types, face shapes, hair, heights, etc and given different individual skills in fighting.

  49. Butch Howard on #

    Of course, you just can’t go wrong with any of Steven Den Beste’s recommendations at Chizumatic.

  50. Hannah on #

    I’d suggest Rozen Maiden. Though all the female characters are, infact, dolls and it’s centered on a male character, the dolls all act like real, strong, girls, and the main doll, Shinku, is strong and it’s based of the manga Rozen Maiden, which is beautifully done by Peach-Pit, with a very good story (basically about rehibilitation of a social recluse, Jun) that I adore.

  51. DK on #

    I’d like to second/third/whatever-number-we’re-up-to PRINCESS TUTU (which starts rather slowly but gets quite epic by the end), and REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA (which is basically the boss). A new recommendation, perhaps the MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA? It’s told from a guy’s perspective, but Haruhi Suzumiya is deliciously her own person and the series as a whole is unbelievably whacky.

  52. J.T. Wilbanks on #

    I’m not a fan of Naruto, not because it’s bad, but the anime in some way for me. I think it’s because the main female character is totally uninspiring.

    I’d suggest Blood+, becasue it’s leading lady Sia, has a dark past as well as AMAZING cast of supporting characters. Her enemy, Diva, is about as scary as a girl in a fluffy dress can get.

    If you’re looking for something a light and fun to watch, I’d suggest the Magical Girl series, Pretty Cure, Pretty Cure Max Heart, and Pretty Cure Splash Star. The two seasons after that are good, but the lead character starts off as a Salior Moon knock-off before maturing. The new seasion,Pretty Cure Fresh!, holds promise in the introduction of older cures and a darker plot. The same guy that works on the fight scenes in DBZ works on this series.

    Tsubasa Chornicals is a CLAMP series, so you know you’re going to get an awesome lead in the form of Sakura, a smart male lead, and a little boy love on the side.

    If you want something retro I’ve heard good things about KKJ and Ghost Sweeper Mikami. Though I haven’t watched either I heard they’re great fun. And who doesn’t love 80’s anime?

    Though I have yet to watch it Ranma is one of the most recommened Animes I’ve come across.

    Hope you’ll find at least one of them to your liking.

  53. J.T. Wilbanks on #

    Oh, and I’d take a look at NANA if I were you, it’s about two completely normal girls who meat and happen to have the same name. One’s an unworldly girl with dreams of making her long time boyfriend happy, while the other is a rocking songstress hoping to form a band. It’s a really nice story, great characters. love the style, it’s so befititng of the story.

  54. Keziah on #

    Full Metal Panic is a good one with strong female characters. It’s an action/adventure/comedy/romance mix about a soldier sent to guard a high school girl who is a target for kidnapping. It’s really funny, and all the girls are strong and interesting.

    Ouran High School Host Club is another amazing anime that never ceases to make me crack up, but there’s only one strong female character, the rest are fairly brainless. But that’s mostly because most of the main characters are guys and all the other girls play a very small part. The main girl is very smart and independent and an all-around great character.

    Fruits Basket and Bleach are both great as well (though Bleach has one female character that’s just as annoying as Misa Amane. But the rest of the girls are pretty awesome, Rukia specifically)

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